CAPE TOWN - There is a tangible optimism around. Everybody involved with Boland Park is walking around with a smile on their faces. An entire region is sensing the good times are back. Not since Boland won their last major trophy, on a steaming evening at the picturesque winelands venue at the turn of the millennium, has the whole place felt so alive again.
Tasked with leading this new revolution, under the guise of the swanky Paarl Rocks now, is none other than the coach, Adrian Birrell, who was in charge of the opposition that balmy night eighteen years ago. But more importantly, though it’s the skipper who has got everyone talking in these parts. He is, of course, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.
“Exciting to be here. I am very excited to be here involved with the Paarl Rocks. Before last year, there was talk about where the Proteas marquee players were going to go. Being a guy that moved down to Cape Town from Pretoria, I always knew that the Cape was going to JP (Duminy), so I said ‘Please, please, can I go to Paarl?’
“So, when they gave me the nod I was very happy. Being a wine-drinker myself, it is very nice to be coming to the winelands. With Boland Cricket not being one of the ‘big’ franchises, I am very excited about the big things that can happen. I really feel it is the beginning of something that can be a real success. People will see what this ground and this team can achieve.”
As leader of the national team, Du Plessis is not only absorbed with the prospects of the Paarl Rocks in this new Mzansi Super League, but also the holistic impact the competition can have on South African cricket as a whole. “I think it’s very important that we get this first tournament up and running. Perhaps not looking too far into the things that are going wrong, but most importantly the tournament is happening; from year two we can use the learnings from day one and see how you can make the tournament better,” Du Plessis said.
“For a lot of players it looks like that’s the way (T20 League) they will certainly finish off their international careers. And hopefully that will be the case for the future as well that you will have players investing time into the international game then towards the end go towards this circuit and not the other way around like in the West Indies where they lose their international players a lot earlier and your international team is not at full strength. So hopefully that will continue to happen. I don’t have any plans of calling it as yet, but when I eventually get to that stage, I will do a few more T20 tournaments.”
Paarl Rocks squad: Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo (West Indies), Tabraiz Shamsi, Dane Paterson, Aiden Markram, Mangaliso Mosehle, Bjorn Fortuin, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Grant Thomson, Paul Stirling (Ireland), Tshepo Moreki, Henry Davids, Cameron Delport (Kolpak), Eathan Bosch (rookie), Patrick Kruger, Kerwin Mungroo.